National Archives and Records Administration

Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)

Resignation of President Richard Nixon

The President's speechwriter, Ray Price, began drafting a resignation speech days before the resignation, as the President agonized over his decision to stay or to go. Speaking for some 16 minutes, Nixon recounted his successes as President, especially in the area of foreign affairs. He explained his departure as a matter of practical politics—he had lost his political base. He did not address the issue of abuse of Presidential power and did not mention the word "impeachment."

On the morning of August 9, 1974, the day following President Nixon's televised resignation speech, White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig presented this letter to President Nixon to sign. The President's resignation letter is addressed to the Secretary of State, in keeping with a law passed by Congress in 1792. The letter became effective when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger initialed it at 11:35 a.m.

President Nixon's resignation letter

National Archives, General Records of the Department of State

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Last updated: March 24, 1999